Never Squeeze, Crush or Squash A Tick. This can force spirochete and other infective body fluids through the mouth parts of the tick into the host. Don't Apply Substances To A Tick. Applying any substances, such as petroleum jelly, fingernail polish remover, repellents, or a lighted match that upset or harm the tick almost always cause the tick to vomit the contents of its stomach back into the host. Ticks can live without air for long periods; attempts to smother it can allow disease transmission for hours.